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Today: Supreme Court To Issue Critical New Rulings; CNN Projects: Bowman Loses New York Primary, Boebert Wins Colorado Primary; Biden And Trump Making Final Debate Preparations. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired June 26, 2024 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, just before 5:30 a.m. here in Washington. A live look at Capitol Hill on this Wednesday morning. Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

In just a few hours, the U.S. Supreme Court will be issuing its next round of rulings. The high court has a stacked docket of decisions to make before its terms wraps up in the next week, including former President Trump's claim of immunity from criminal prosecution. That decision is likely to impact three pending criminal trials that he faces. He is, of course, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Let's bring in Jess Bravin who covers the high court for The Wall Street Journal. Jess, good morning to you. Thank you so much for being here.

Let's start with this immunity decision because, of course, we're expecting at 10:00 a.m. the court to come in. We're going to find out what cases that are left. These are, of course, their highest stakes, most important cases that they leave for the very end of the term.

What are you watching for in terms of this immunity question? When you learn that it is actually coming what will you be particularly focused on?

JESS BRAVIN, SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think the most important thing is going to be firstly, if he has absolute immunity as he claims, which means there's no possibility of criminal prosecution for anything he did while in office. So that obviously is a huge win for Mr. Trump if he -- if he gets it.

More likely, it will be a somewhat more nuanced decision where the court sees some area of criminal exposure for ex-presidents. And the question is going to be what do you have to do to find out what acts can be tried and what -- which are immune. And that is really going to be the question. The details are going to tell us whether there is a possibility of an actual trial or not before the election.

HUNT: So there obviously has been an incredible amount of scrutiny on the ethics of the individual justices. A lot of it's focused on Samuel Alito. But the court itself also very much in the political limelight.

How do the personal ways that each of these justices relate to President Trump -- to the court -- the idea that the court is a political actor of not play into this immunity decision?

BRAVIN: You know, obviously, the members of the court will say not at all. They are able to completely separate any personal feelings or background they may have from the legal issues before them. The perception may be something different for the public and for the participants in the case. In fact, we know from polling that most Americans view the court as politically motivated rather than acting on legal principles. We -- again, who knows what's in the -- in the hearts of men and women?

However, the issues in this court -- this case -- the connections between members of the court and the litigant, Donald Trump, are much closer than we've seen in, really, any cases, including ones where a president has appointed justices who are then ruling on a matter of personal importance to him.

President Trump appointed three members of the court. Even when they were nominated there were questions about what is the degree of personal loyalty will they have to him because he has made that an important factor in the decisions he makes about who he is going to give to high office. And they all said no, none at all. We are there purely to look at legal issues.

But we have seen, of course, that the wife of one justice, Ginni Thomas, Justice Thomas' wife, was urging Republican officials to reject Biden's victory after the election in 2020. And then we've seen Martha-Ann Alito, the wife of Justice Samuel Alito, flying flags at her properties that many associate with the Stop the Steal or MAGA movement.

And it makes it almost quaint the kinds of things we were looking at during Bush v. Gore the last time we saw such an intricate connection between the Supreme Court and an election outcome. There, an offhand comment that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's husband made at an election watch party became a frontpage scandalous story in our paper --

HUNT: Yeah.

BRAVIN: -- which was that she wanted a Republican to win so she could retire. And that became a huge issue and a question of ethics.

HUNT: Right.

BRAVIN: Now that would seem rather ingenuous.

HUNT: Well, you mentioned Alito's wife. I mean, we saw that Alito was absent from the bench for some of the decisions that were -- that came down last week, which is very unusual, right? I mean, what did you make of that?

BRAVIN: Well, we don't know exactly where he was. We haven't heard. There was no announcement. Typically, when a justice is absent there is some announcement by the chief -- a vague description of where they are. We got nothing there.

Perhaps he was working hard in his chambers on the last finishing touches of a -- of an opinion. There was no indication that he was physically ill. So we really don't know where it is.

But it is highly unusual even though it's kind of ceremonial moment. The court is not voting or doing anything; they're just reading the opinions. Typically, all nine appear on the bench when that -- when that happens.

HUNT: Yeah.

So you wrote, with one of your colleagues, that there are a number of other decisions in addition to immunity that are coming down and many of them could actually have an impact on the debate stage tomorrow night. And it's not just immunity you say.


"Should the court release its decisions Wednesday or Thursday, they will almost certainly become a key topic when the candidates debate. Should it come Friday or the following week, the court could deliver one candidate a jolt of energy coming out of the debate."

But these cases are about the January 6 rioters. There's also abortion -- a very critical abortion case to be decided.

BRAVIN: Yeah, and that's another amazing thing about this term -- the way that the substantive issues before the court are linked to these kind of procedural criminal questions involving one of the candidates.

You know, President Trump, in the 2016 campaign, said if I get three appointments to the Supreme Court -- he said it on a CNN debate, in fact -- Roe v. Wade will be overturned automatically. And that's, indeed, what happened. And President Trump was talking about that just last week -- about how he takes pride in that outcome.

So -- and you see some Democrats trying to link these together, saying that the court is now just an arm of the Republican Party. It's doing things for their policy agenda. The justices is doing things for their candidate.

Again, the court does not see it that way. They would never say that, and I don't think they believe that. That's how many people perceive it.

HUNT: All right, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal. Thank you very much for joining us this morning. I really appreciate --

BRAVIN: Of course.

HUNT: -- your time.

All right, up next here, the squad losing one of its members. CNN is projecting that Congressman Jamaal Bowman will lose the closely watched Democratic primary in New York's 16th district to challenger George Latimer. The result marks the first defeat for a member of the progressive House squad. It's also a victory for pro-Israel groups that backed Latimer with historic spending.


REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (R-NY): Now, our opponents -- not opponent -- may have won this round at this time in this place, but this will be a battle for our humanity and justice for the rest of our lives.


HUNT: And in Colorado, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert has survived her Republican primary challenge. CNN projecting that Boebert will win her crowded primary in Colorado's 4th district. The MAGA firebrand barely won reelection in her current district in 2022. She opted to run in a seat being vacated by Republican Ken Buck instead.

Joining me now to discuss, Farnoush Amiri, congressional reporter for the Associated Press. Farnoush, good morning.


HUNT: Thank you so much for being here.

Look, I want to start with the New York race because this was one where we saw very intense campaigning over the weekend. Jamaal Bowman had been joined by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

This is a very unique district in that it encompasses some of the wealthiest, frankly, less diverse places in Westchester County, New York with some lower income areas in the Bronx. And that sort of covers the divide, or some of the divide that we see in the Democratic Party itself.

What was -- what's your reporting on kind of how this is playing and how representative it is of the broader kind of back-and-forth in the Democratic Party right now?

AMIRI: Yeah. I mean, like you said, I think there is a number of factors that led to Jamaal Bowman's loss last night. Obviously, the amount of money that was funneling into this campaign -- to this campaign -- this race. AIPAC spent more than 15 -- nearly $15 million on this case, focusing on Jamaal Bowman's comments about Israel. His criticism of the country's handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

But more specifically, like you mentioned, I mean, his district has changed since he won in 2020 and it has become more white and less Black and it's covering more of that high-income Westchester County than it is the parts of the Bronx that really helped propel him to office.

But more than that, I think Jamaal Bowman was seen as a vulnerable candidate for centrist Democrats hoping to go more to the moderate side to be able to talk to the constituent base that wants folks who are not more outspoken -- who are doing the job. And one of the things that Bowman has been criticized for is his losing touch of the district, right?

HUNT: Um-hum.

AMIRI: Not spending as much time out talking to folks focusing on issues that impact his constituents, and more time on some of what people call culture war issues, as many have seen.

HUNT: He also pulled the fire alarm?

AMIRI: He also pulled the fire alarm, yeah.

HUNT: Which I still don't fully have my head around.

AMIRI: Yes. None of us do.

HUNT: Anyway -- so turning to Colorado, let's hear a little bit of Lauren Boebert's reaction last night when she found out she was going to win -- watch.


REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): We are going to have a fantastic night of victory and it's not over. President Trump needs us now more than ever to get him in the race, in the fight, in the White House November 5.


HUNT: So she also alluded to, in her victory speech, that social media -- what people would be seeing on their phones about her. Because part of why she was in so much danger and why she had to switch districts was because she was thrown out of a musical for -- vaping was the official reason for her getting the boot.


But there was some --

AMIRI: A few other things, yeah.

HUNT: -- behavior involved also.

But it's clear -- I mean, the lesson that I learned from this -- I mean, this is -- she's winning in a place that she's not from under circumstances where -- you know, I've spoken to members of Congress who suggested that Ken Buck bailed out his seat a little bit early so that there would be someone else appointed so they could give that person an edge over Lauren Boebert.

AMIRI: Yeah.

HUNT: But at the end of the day, the famous -- the social media famous face has won out.

AMIRI: Yeah. I mean, it -- again, the -- we can't understate how much switching districts helped her. I mean, she -- we saw how close her race was -- HUNT: Right.

AMIRI: -- in 2022.

You know, Democrats really saw this as a pickup for them if she would have stayed in her district. So she took the politically -- you know, more advantageous decision. And she talks about it, and she said last night the district might be different, the region might be different, but the values are the same. But it's very clear she saw what was coming and she did what was politically advantageous for her.

HUNT: What are her -- what are her alliances in Congress like right now?

AMIRI: Yeah. She's interesting. You know, I was going to make a parallel with her and Bowman but in a lot of ways, she's taken, like, a back seat. She wasn't part of the eight that voted to oust McCarthy. She wasn't -- she has not been the ones who have been pushing the motion to vacate, like her former friend, Marjorie Taylor Greene has.

She has been more of a -- her controversies have come more from what she's done outside of Capitol Hill than what she's done on Capitol Hill, which is a very --

HUNT: That's an interesting way to think about it.

AMIRI: -- different Boebert than we saw when she first came to office.

HUNT: Yeah. Well, and that falling out -- because she -- in the beginning, she and Marjorie Taylor Greene were, like, inseparable. They were together. I mean, I remember watching them together on the floor during one of those early Trump --

AMIRI: Yeah.

HUNT: -- State of the Unions -- States of the Union. And then suddenly, that seemed to break apart. I mean, what happened there?

AMIRI: I think, you know -- I -- and from people I've spoken to there seems to be not enough space for two MAGA darlings, right --

HUNT: Aha.

AMIRI: -- in the Republican Conference. There is -- you know, they came up seeing themselves as likeminded and being able to build a space for themselves in this conference that is obviously very male dominated. But then, as time went on, they realized that there can only be one spotlight and obviously, Majorie has taken over that in a lot of ways.

HUNT: Very interesting.

Farnoush Amiri for us this morning. Farnoush, thank you.

AMIRI: Yeah, thank you. HUNT: I always really appreciate having you.

All right. Coming up next, what former President Obama's speechwriter is hoping to see at tomorrow night's presidential debate. Plus, the NBA draft just hours away. The Bleacher Report's next.



HUNT: All right, welcome back.

We're just a day away from the historic debate between Donald Trump and President Biden. When they take the stage in Atlanta tomorrow night, they'll be laying out starkly different views for the country's future and how they deliver those messages could go a long way towards deciding who will get a second term in the Oval Office.

Joining us now, Terry Szuplat, former speechwriter for President Obama. He's also the author of a new book titled "Say It Well." Terry, good morning. Thank you so much for being here.


HUNT: You have spent a lot of time thinking about what a candidate needs to do in a forum like a debate. You did -- worked on a lot of these kinds of things with Obama. It does seem like in this particular case, moments may define how we think about this debate going forward.

If you are advising these two men, how do you think about what needs to be accomplished there, especially considering how we consume media has changed so dramatically in recent years?

SZUPLAT: Sure. Well, you know, a debate is fundamentally like any speech, like any campaign. You're telling the voters a story. It has to be a coherent story. It's a story about where the country is right now. What's working and what isn't working.

It's a story about yourself. Why you're the right candidate. Why the other candidate is the wrong candidate.

And it's a story about the future. Every election is about the future. It's a choice about the future.

And so, as a candidate, you're trying to create moments that reinforce your version of the story. The story that you want voters to remember when they go in the polling booth come September (sic) -- November.

HUNT: Yeah.

So you wrote in an op-ed for CNN here recently. You say, "For the sake of our families, our communities, our democracy, the way we talk to one another has to change. We know this. Most Americans say they want more stability in our national discourse. But how do we get there?" Now, the rules of this debate are such that the moderators will have control of the microphones of the candidates and they can be cut off --


HUNT: -- if necessary. But based on kind of the tenor of the debate that we saw from Biden and Trump in 2020, I admire the sentiment very much.

SZUPLAT: That's right.

HUNT: How realistic is it?

SZUPLAT: Right. It -- well, you know, that op-ed is a -- was a message for all of us as citizens. How we conduct ourselves as family members, as friends, as coworkers, as neighbors. How we conduct the debate in our democracy.

I think one of the really interesting things about this debate will be -- will be the fact that the microphones will be off. So -- and I'll be interested to see how that plays out.

One of the central messages of the Biden campaign right now is that something after the 2020 election for Donald Trump snapped. That he's unhinged. That he's angrier than ever. He's more vengeful than ever.

And if you remember, one of -- one of the reasons that he was widely perceived to have lost the 2020 -- the first 2020 debate was because he kept interrupting Joe Biden, and he looked out of control and unhinged then.


So if the microphone is off now and former President Trump looks more restrained and looks more presidential, it could undercut that message somewhat. So we'll have to see how that plays out.

HUNT: How do kind of the personal things about someone -- about a candidate play into the coaching?

You write in your book, for example, that Obama sometimes struggled to keep it brief when he was president. "There are times when I am too long-winded, he admitted to you once, pointing to press conferences and debates, where he felt it was artificial and stilted. He's going on way too long," Obama said, "comically impersonating frustrated advisers who would urge him to be more succinct. He's explaining too much stuff."

I do remember covering that also.


HUNT: But this is kind of a window into -- I mean, obviously, Obama is one man but --


HUNT: -- sort of, the personal proclivities and tendencies and how that plays into what we see.

SZUPLAT: Sure. It's the same challenge. In this case, it will be two minutes trying to distill a complex issue like abortion, reproductive freedoms, the economy -- down to two minutes -- 120 seconds. For a rebuttal, down to one minute -- down to 60 seconds. It's hard. It's hard for all of us. It's hard for president and it's hard for candidates.

So I think one of the things that we can all watch for is does this person -- does this candidate have the discipline necessary to boil a complex message down to a way that the American people can understand. I mean, most Americans haven't focused on this election yet and they won't focus on it for many more months to come. But again, boiling that story down --

HUNT: Um-hum.

SZUPLAT: -- to a way that's digestible to the American people and that will resonate with them -- that they'll carry with them into the voting booth.

HUNT: How do you think the timing of this will actually impact whether or not it matters? Because this is -- when we say it's the earliest debate, we mean in the calendar in modern memory, right?


HUNT: Normally, we see three of these that don't start until, like, late September --


HUNT: -- and now it's June.

SZUPLAT: Right. And now -- so, interesting, right? Moments after the debate and in the hours after the debate, the two campaigns will rush to distill their best and worst moments. You know, their own best moments and the worst moments of the opponent into clips that will go all over social media. So now we have the earliest presidential debate in history and we'll have many, many months where those can just get baked into the ecosystem.

Our kids will see them on TikTok. We'll all be seeing this. We'll be talking about these for months.

So in a way, by being --

HUNT: I might see them on Instagram. I'm too old for TikTok -- sorry.

SZUPLAT: My kids show me a lot of these clips before I see them myself.

And so, now these will get baked into the system in a way. So there's tremendous opportunity and there's tremendous peril, and that's why theyre spending so much time getting ready.

HUNT: All right, Terry Szuplat, Obama speechwriter and author of "Say It Well." Thank you very much for --

SZUPLAT: Thank you so much.

HUNT: -- joining us this morning. I appreciate it.

SZUPLAT: Appreciate it.

HUNT: All right, time now for sports. The NBA draft tips off tonight, but who the Atlanta Hawks will pick with the top spot still anyone's guess.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, good morning, Kasie.

So this is the first time ever we have a two-night NBA draft. You've got the first round going on tonight. You've got the second round tomorrow. And this year, no clearcut number-one superstar at the top of the draft, which could make it a lot of fun to see what teams end up doing.

For the first time since 1975, the Atlanta Hawks have the first overall pick. They're going to be followed by the Wizards and then the Rockets.

And like I said, no Victor Wembanyama in this draft, but two other French prospects are expected to be top picks. You've got Zac Rishacher, a sharpshooting forward, and you've got defensive center Alex Sarr who is super athletic.

And then all eyes are going to be on Bronny James. Will LeBron's son go in the first round tonight? The Lakers have the 17th pick.

The draft gets started at 8:00 Eastern.

The Knicks and Mets, meanwhile, have reportedly agreed to a blockbuster trade on the eve of the draft. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Brooklyn is sending Mikal Bridges to New York, reuniting the Villanova star with his former Wildcat teammates Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo.

The Knicks paying a huge price to get this done, sending four unprotected first-round picks -- a protected first-rounder via the Bucks and a pick swap in 2028. So New York just going all in on the Nova Knicks.

These two teams -- they also never like helping each other. This is actually the first trade between the Knicks and Nets since 1983.

All right. In the WNBA, Lynx and Liberty squaring off at a Commissioner's Cup trophy, the end-season tournament title. Minnesota taking this game over in the third quarter outscoring New York 19-10. Naphessa Collier -- she had 21 points and six rebounds.

The Lynx would win 94-89. And their players getting to split the half- million-dollar prize pool.

All right, a scary moment during last night's Copa America game between Canada and Peru in Kansas City. Just before halftime, one of the referees collapsed on the field apparently due to the extreme heat. The heat index hovered around 100 degrees. And the official -- he was standing on the side of the field that had no shade. Play was delayed for several minutes while he was stretchered off the field.

Canada went on to win 1-nil for their first-ever victory in the history of the tournament.



JIM SCHLOSSNAGLE, BASEBALL COACH, TEXAS A&M: I think it's pretty selfish of you to ask me that question, to be honest with you. But my -- I left my family to be the coach of Texas A&M. I took the job at Texas A&M to never take another job again, and that hasn't changed in my mind. And that's unfair to talk about something like that.


SCHOLES: All right. So that was Jim Schlossnagle after losing in the College World Series title game Monday night, kind of attacking the reporter for asking what turned out to be a super fair question. Because just hours later, Schlossnagle accepted the Texas Longhorn's head job, leaving A&M, Kasie.

And I'm from Texas. Half of my buddies went to A&M and the other half when to Texas. They're very sour about this -- the A&M people. The Texas -- my Texas friends are all laughing because they love taking coaches from Texas A&M.

But Schlossnagle there -- you know, he knew what he was doing. I'm not -- I'm not sure he should have reacted to the question that way because the reporter was just doing his job.

HUNT: Yeah. I don't know about that. I mean, look, we get this from politicians in Washington all the time, right? They say no -- that thing you're reporting -- it's absolutely not happening.


HUNT: And then it turns out a couple of hours later -- well, no -- actually, it is happening, OK.

Andy, thank you. I really appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right.

HUNT: Coming up next here, one more day until the CNN presidential debate. How the candidates are preparing in the final hours. Plus, Julian Assange freed. We've got new reporting on how his plea deal finally came to pass.